Natural Cures for Colic
This pages focuses on natural cures for colic, using essential oils, as well as herbs and homeopathy. Signs of colic and tips for calming
colic babies will also be covered.
Medically speaking, colic is defined as an otherwise healthy baby crying for more than three hours a day, three days per week, for longer than three weeks.
Colic tends to get worse at certain times of the day (most commonly during the evenings or at night). A crying episode can last anywhere between a few minutes to a
few hours. As colic babies cry, it is also common to see them clench their little firsts, pull up their legs, tighten their abdominal muscles and squirm into different
positions to try and relieve abdominal cramps.
About one in five babies develops colic. It is more common in boys and in firstborn children. It usually begins at about 2 weeks of age and goes away by the third or
Signs of Colic
In an otherwise healthy, well-fed baby, signs of colic include:
- Intense Crying: Colic crying is intense and often high pitched. The baby's face may flush, and the baby is extremely difficult to be consoled.
- Predictable Crying Pattern: The baby often cries about the same time every day (usually in the late afternoon or evening), and
cries for more than 3 hours on at least three occasions a week.
- Posture Changes: During a crying episode, the baby kicks a lot, pulls their legs up close, and makes tight fists.
- Other Signs of Colic: The baby's tummy may seem hard, and the baby burps and passes gas often. The baby may also spit up frequently after
Causes of Colic
The exact cause of colic is unknown. However, it is believed that the following may be possible causes:
- The baby has an immature digestive system
- The baby has allergies to some foods, such as milk (if the baby is on formula)
- The baby may be reacting to something in the mother's diet (if the baby is breastfed)
- The baby swallows air, especially when feeding
- The baby may be reacting to the mother's anxiety
Natural Cures for Colic
There are various natural cures for colic using herbs, homeopathy, and essential oils.
Natural Cures for Colic Using Essential Oils
Gentle masage using essential oils is one of the natural cures for colic that is easy to do but effective. Here is what you need:
Use this oil mixture to gently massage the baby's tummy. Then turn the baby over and rub the middle portion of the back in gentle, circular movements.
- 1 drop of Dill
- Diluted in one tablespoon of Sweet Almond oil
Natural Cures for Colic Using Herbs
Some gentle herbs also make good and effective cures for colic. As a precaution, however, always check with your baby's pediatrician first before using any herbs.
Herbs that can cure colic include:
- Slippery Elm: The bark of slippery elm helps soothe the digestive system and can be used to ease abdominal cramps in babies over 3 months old.
You can combine the powdered bark with water and make a meal of slippery elm "gruel", similar in consistency to instant oatmeal.
- Chamomile: Chamomile has calming effects and can relieve colic-related fretfulness in babies. You can give about half a cup of chamomile tea
to your baby for up to three times per day.
Other herbs with similar properties include vervain, fennel and lemon balm.
If you are breastfeeding, you may also want to drink these herbal teas instead of your regular tea or coffee.
- Caraway: Caraway helps reduce intestinal cramping. Combine 1 teaspoon of caraway seed with 8 ounces of boiled water and steep for 10 minutes.
Then add 3 ounces of vegetable glycerin. Strain and give half a teaspoon to your baby about 15 minutes before feeding.
Natural Cures for Colic Using Homeopathy
Homeopathic remedies are good cures for colic because they are fast acting, safe and without side effects. Common remedies for colic include:
- Bryonia: This remedy is for pain worsened by movement and pressure. It is most appropriate for irritable babies who lie still with
knees drawn up.
- Chamomilla: This remedy is especially helpful to colicky babies who desperately scream or shriek and want to be constantly rocked
and carried. The tummy may be bloated with gas, and the baby may sweat with facial flushing (sometimes only one cheek).
- Magnesia phosphorica: This remedy is an effective and gentle painkiller and is often recommended to safely treat cramping pain.
Natural Cures for Colic - Diets
Diets are also important since food allergy may be a cause of colic. If you are breastfeeding, eliminating gas-producing and potentially allergic foods from your diet may
help. Consider eliminating milk products, eggs, wheat, nuts and berries from your diet. It is also advisable for you to limit intake of very acidic foods, spicy foods and
caffeine and keep your diet fairly bland. Start a food diary and begin by eliminating all problem foods. You can then slowly start to re-introduce them into your diet
while noting your baby's colic reaction.
If you are bottle-feeding, consult with a qualified natural health care provider to help you find nutritious hypoallergenic foods for your baby.
Natural Cures for Colic - Other Tips
Try to experiment with a few simple feeding changes and see if you notice any changes:
To help soothe your colic baby, try the following:
- Make sure that your baby is not swallowing air while feeding as this can result in wind.
- If you are bottle-feeding, make sure that the nipple size and shape is appropriate for your baby's age.
- While feeding your baby, always ensure that the baby is in a diagonal position with his/her head higher than his/her feet.
- Burp the baby frequently.
- Try to relax when breastfeeding a colic baby, whose digestion may be interfered because the baby can sense the nervous tension of your anxiety and may
- Try different ways of keeping your baby moving because motion tends to help with colic. For example, rocking your baby in a cradle or rocking chair,
walking with your baby, or bouncing your baby gently in your arms.
- Sing and talk gently to your baby. Your voice is a comfort and a distraction from the discomfort.
- Play some soft music, or use "white noise" (for example, a dryer) to help soothe your baby.
- Carry your colicky baby around upright in a baby sling. This can sometimes soothe the baby.
Worwood, V.A. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. (New World Library, 1991)
University of Maryland Medical Center (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/infantile-colic-000094.htm)
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